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The Buzz: Dueling views of California state payroll system overhaul failure

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 - 6:26 am

Controller John Chiang's office spun an upbeat message about efforts to overhaul the state's aging payroll system for years while behind the scenes the massive IT project was in disarray, according to a new state analysis released Monday.

The report by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes concludes that officials running the now-defunct 21st Century/MyCalPays project kept pouring money into the program despite clear and early warnings from insiders that the program was foundering on many levels.

Meanwhile, official updates to the Legislature "often lacked candor, sugar-coating some problems and ignoring others. This failure to be transparent compromised legislative oversight and stymied accountability."

Chiang spokesman Jacob Roper responded that department staff met on dozens of occasions in the last few years with lawmakers and state oversight agencies about the project.

The Senate report's characterization that staff hid the project's struggles "appears to be driven by the report's over-reliance on the (Controller's Office) quarterly reports," Roper said in the email, "without taking into account other forms of information sharing that were constantly and regularly taking place … ."

– Jon Ortiz

BILL WATCH

State Sen. Ed Hernandez is giving up for this year his effort to expand the kinds of medical services optometrists can offer in California.

The Democrat from West Covina said Monday that he instead will push for passage of Senate Bill 492 in 2014. The bill would allow optometrists to diagnose and treat all kinds of ailments related to the eye, including conditions such as diabetes.

– Laurel Rosenhall

WORTH REPEATING

"Californians need to know that by opting out of the system they could be trading a moment's annoyance for the possibility of real harm to themselves and their families."

ASSEMBLY SPEAKER JOHN A. PÉREZ, joining California emergency officials to urge residents not to disable emergency alerts from their cellphones

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